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13 GOING ON 30
Fun and Flirty Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis
Director: Gary Winick
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Sony Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: February 7, 2006

“Can you hear that, sir? Can you hear the music?”

Film ***

The big screen has found its new leading lady in Jennifer Garner.

Resulting from her steady rise to fame through her hit TV show, Alias, as well as supporting roles in Catch Me if You Can and, most noticeably, Daredevil, Ms. Garner has been given the perfect vehicle to showcase her first lead role. She completely won me over instantly with her charming presence. One thing’s for sure; we will be seeing a lot more of her, and I for one can’t wait to see what she does next.

13 Going on 30 is a superbly entertaining, if slightly formulaic, comedy that has the ability to not only make you laugh, but keep you smiling all the way through. Few movies are capable of that quality, and to see that a movie like this, which could’ve easily been made into a lackluster, run-of-the-mill overdone comedy, have that kind of effect is a real pleasant surprise.

The story opens in 1987, where newly 13 year old Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) is depressed with just about her entire existence. Hitting that point in every young girl’s life where popularity is something of a necessity, Jenna dreams of being welcomed into the popular school clique, and date the hot jock. Although she has her best friend, Matt, to lean on, Jenna, tired of being labeled as different, wants to be “cool” and nothing more.

Following a disastrous birthday party, an upset Jenna cries out a constant wish to be “thirty and flirty”. Little does she know that as she proposes the wish, she’s comes into contact with some magic dust that was given by Matt as a present. Thanks to both the wishing and the dust, she gets what she asked for. The next morning, she awakens, only to discover that she’s grown up a great deal and that she’s now living in an ultra-nice New York apartment.

Jenna (now played by Garner), is in a most confusing state. She has no idea why she woke up in a place she’s never slept before, or why there was a nearly naked man with her, or why she looks the way she looks. She comes to discover that she is close friends with Lucy (Judy Greer), who as it turns out, was the snobby clique ringleader who played a hurtful trick on Jenna at the birthday party 13 years ago.

Jenna is also baffled by the notion that she has a high paying job as an editor for a major New York magazine. She has an uptight and flamboyant boss (Andy “Gollum” Serkis), who is complaining about the numbers being pulled in by the magazine’s top competition. As confused as she is, Jenna is also confusing everyone around her with her new “kind” behavior.

Desperate for some comforting, Jenna tracks down Matt (Mark Ruffalo), who now works as a freelance photographer. Although Matt is stunned to see Jenna after two supposedly parted ways long ago, he senses the special bond they once shared is still in full swing, even if he is a bit startled by her childlike actions, just as everyone is. Although she is apparently supposed to be dating a hotshot hockey player, Jenna has grown attached to Matt more than ever before, and it’s possible that sparks are about to fly between them. Garner and Ruffalo have superb chemistry together.

As you can probably gather, this kind of movie hasn’t been made before. In fact, it has been made many times, in form of Big, as well as the recent hit remake of Freaky Friday. And although there isn’t much here that can be labeled as unpredictable, 13 Going on 30 has a purely irresistible way about itself that helps in making it all the more enjoyable. As I mentioned before, I was smiling throughout the movie, so that’s got to mean something.

And then there’s Jennifer Garner, who’s absolutely wonderful. There’s no other way to put it. The way she makes the 30 year old Jenna maneuver with the mannerisms and all around innocence that a 13 year old would easily display produces both laughs and even awe, at times. Garner’s many bewildered facial expressions are truly priceless. I loved the early scene where she can’t figure out why she keeps hearing music playing, when it turns out it’s a cell phone in her purse. Other moments, such as where Jenna gets everyone engaging in some retro-dancing at a work party, illustrate the movie’s ability to win you over.

If anything, 13 Going on 30 is by far one of the more endearing movies I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s got just about everything for everyone, in terms of comedy, romance, and something of an uplifting story. Most importantly, it has Jennifer Garner in what is indeed a star-making performance, and is the all important reason to see this movie.

Video ***1/2

Sony’s anamorphic offering is quite bright and beautiful, to say the least. The picture is purely clear and lively, full of rich detail, which is to always be expected in a New York City setting. Colors are supremely natural as can be, as well. I did happen to notice some slight grain in one solitary shot, but it doesn’t begin to falter what is delivered elsewhere in the presentation.

Audio ***1/2

I was quite surprised by how strong the 5.1 mix was, especially since this kind of movie isn’t known for packing so much of an audio punch. Music is quite frequent in the movie (mostly that of classic 80s tracks). One key scene, where in which Jenna starts up a Michael Jackson dancing frenzy, is a presentation high point. Well done every inch of the way!

Features ***1/2

Sony’s release has added a couple of features, but has removed the two commentary tracks that were on the original disc. Among the new features is an alternate beginning and ending, and a brand new 1980s Fashion Flashback featurette. Also featured on the disc are the featurettes "I Was a Teenage Geek" and “The Making of 13 Going on 30, a Blooper Reel , music videos for Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" and two bonus previews.

Plus, as an added bonus, the DVD is packaged in a pink, bubble-gum smelling case.

Summary:

Heart warming and terrifically funny, 13 Going on 30 is sure to tickle the funny bone and bring a smile to the face. Ms. Garner is a newfound delight to watch in her every scene, and her wonderful performance serves as a reason to see the movie, as is this all new Fun and Flirty Edition DVD.

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